Behind the Paw Influencer Summit with IAMS/Eukanuba: an Eye-Opening Experience
You have no idea what goes into creating these formulas; you have no idea how much love and respect these people have for all pets. I can’t wait to tell you about it. Check out this video-its from the Leipsic Manufacturing Plant that we visited and it really displays how these people feel about pets.
For all intensive purposes, every time I say IAMS in this post, I am referring to both IAMS AND Eukanuba – it’s just easier to type IAMS.
IAMS believes in backing up their nutritional claims with real science. They use actual scientific data to prove that their products do what they say, i.e., weight-loss, skin and coat help, etc. In fact, they have 25 sites worldwide doing studies on food, nutrition and other areas of the pet food arena. They fund worldwide experts and partner with them; most of these experts are at universities.
So let’s first cover the issue that everyone wants to know about: the PETA video. I refuse to put a link to the video on this blog (or ANY link to PETA), but you can find it on YouTube. If you haven’t seen it – DON’T watch it, it’s all bullshit. (Forgive my French but you all know how passionate and outspoken I am.).
IAMS opened the Sinclair Research Center sometime in the early part of the 21st century; I do not know the exact date but it was around the year 2000. They already had Pet Health and Nutrition Centers at other sites that were efficient and functional, providing great information for the company about the palletability of the food, ie does is taste good? So they hired a worker to be an animal advocate for the Sinclair location. This person was supposed to watch over the animals in the Nutrition Center and take care of them (you’ll here more about the Nutrition Center and its testing practices later).
So the woman who was hired ended up being an undercover worker for PETA. After working there about 3-4 months, she secretly and ILLEGALLY took a video of some Beagles; these Beagles were being prepared for spay/neuter procedure so they were lined up on a table next to each other. Two of them had muscle tissue tests taken, which means they had less than a 1-inch suture on their legs. The PETA worker sprayed them with Iodine, which, when dried, looks like dried blood (ask your vet if you don’t believe me).
Someone from PETA took that and doctored the video up to make it look like there was raw muscle hanging out of their legs. In reality, these Beagles were just getting a normal veterinary procedure done. And they whine and cry because, according to veterinarian Dr. Jessica V from PawCurious, when animals come out of anesthesia, they are totally freaked out and scared, so they often whine, scream, bark, or cry while the medicine wears off. Dr. V said this is totally normal.
*** We all know PETA’s record of killing animals. (Well maybe not ALL of us…) And we’ve heard rumors that they are secretly aligned with the domestic terrorist organization, ALF. And we all know about their smear campaign tactics and flat-out personal attacks on people and organizations. And we all know how they spew venom at their adversaries instead of acting in a respectful manner. So I beg of you, if you don’t believe what I’m telling you about PETA, please check out the links below to really measure the validity of what this organization says not only about IAMS, but about everyone else too. They have a record of lies, betrayal and misinformation. So if they can do all off that, can you really rely on what they are showing and telling you??? Please, I also beg of you, check out the IAMS Truth website. And read about the Animal Welfare Advisory Board they created. IAMS is, simply an innocent victim of a PETA smear campaign. The links below will tell you more about PETA and the head of the organization.
Okay, on to the real good stuff now! Unfortunately, I cannot display any pictures of the actual visit as we were not permitted to photograph what we saw for obvious proprietary reasons. I can, however, attach some videos that show how amazing and pet-passionate the IAMS team is. (And some photos from the bowling night we had, and some photos permitted for use.) The WHOLE team. Every single person in the IAMS organization is just as much of a pet-lover as you and I. Some of them are even Animaniacs like me! I was happy to hear the passion, emotion, love and good intent in all of their voices – “their” being EVERY SINGLE PERSON we met in the IAMS/Eukanuba brand, and that’s A LOT of people – hundreds. Don’t forget to check out the Leipsic Plant Video I linked to earlier.
So today I’m going to tell you about the Pet Health and Nutrition Center, which was our first stop and my favorite part of the tour. This is where the food testing is done with the animals. I’m not quite sure how many pets are there, but the ones that are there live the good life. There are cats and dogs here; the dogs come from family breeders. I was impressed to hear that, in their first year, each animal is cared for and trained, and IAMS spends $10,000 per pet in the first year alone; this is spent solely on their care and training. They do this so to improve adoptability, because once the food testing phase is done on the pets,they are adopted out. This is usually when the pets are five or six.
The Animal Welfare Board I mentioned earlier is a big part of IAMS and the Pet Health and Nutrition Center (PHNC). Angela Morris runs the IAMS office and she’s a beautiful person with a serious passion and love of all four-legged creatures.Dr. Jessica Lockhart is the Staff Animal Behaviorist and she shares the same love, respect and adoration of all the pets. And yes. IAMS pays to have a professional behaviorist for the animals. Overall, the animal welfare group seeks to:
- increase successful adoptions
- enhance animal socialization
- educate others about current and future programs
- provide effective training to make pets adoptable and adaptable to a kennel
The Animal Welfare Board also employs Animal Welfare Specialists (AWS). It’s their job to see that certain things are done, like grooming, socializing, exercising, improving “adoptability, ” health monitoring, and reinforcing skills that are already taught.
There’s a large Home Environment Room (HER) for the animals the PHNC, which is where the AWS, the behaviorist and several other pet-welfare and care employees are. The Home Environment was made to teach the animals what it’s really like to be in a home. And it is amazing. There are sounds, smells, sights, surfaces, people and manners that the pets learn and experience in the HER. This place looks like a real family room in a house or condo.
The PHNC has a dog-walking program so that the dogs get exercise and socialized every single day. This exposes them to strangers and helps the employees with handling training and environmental orientation. So, its not like the dogs sit in kennels all day long and wait to do a split-plate food test. They get taken out to play with the other dogs, they get walked a few times a day, they go into the HER for a while, and all of this equals a healthy and happy dog.
Oh yeah, the dogs are NEVER de-barked and there is no ear- or tail-cropping done.
IAMS even has created goals for the socialization program for the cats and dogs, the end goal being to produce well-adjusted adoptable animals. The successful “research candidates” demonstrate typical species behavior in the end. I can’t say that the dogs are kept in kennels because it’s like, ten steps up from a kennel. It’s a climate controlled room; each dog has bar-style doggie doors if he wants to go outside; each dog has a privacy area where he can go and no other dog can see him. It’s truly impressive.
And believe you me… I SAW and played with these well-trained and well-behaved dogs (we saw a group of about 12 black labs). Not one of them barked or jumped up or acted in an unacceptable manner. They were friendly, they gave kisses on your hands, they wagged their tails, and they were happy. HAPPY food-testing Black Labs. Black labs that will be adopted soon and go to a home. It was AWESOME.
There’s an adoption program in place at the PHNC called the Companion Connections Adoption Program. Before adoption there’s behavior moderation. And because of in-home testing, which IAMS also does, there are many controls and comparisons in place.
And as for the cats, they all live in a cageless habitat, all together in huge rooms filled with stimuli, in groups of 10 or so (don’t quote me on that – I didn’t count!). The cats are also trained and cared for in the first year (with the same figure as mentioned above) so as to acclimate them to the “catteries” that are in place at the PHNC. They are never de-clawed; they are kept as natural as possible. They are also micro-chipped. Here they also have employees whose sole job is to play with and socialize the cats at the PHNC.The cats are all bred on-site to avoid because its a pathogen-free colony environment.
The IAMS group believes in early adaptation. They have a “Kitten Kindergarten” in place for this reason. At two to seven weeks, any cat is in its inherent “sensitive period.” The PHNC provides a safe place where they can explore and interact during this time. There are also Designated Training Teams in place for the kitten and the puppies. They also have what’s called “Modified Exposure,” where puppies arrive at eight weeks of age and then spend 4-6 weeks off-site getting exposure to outside environs.
Overall, Dr. Lockhart and the IAMS testing team believe in early neurological stimulation, early being 8-10 weeks. This period is the animals’ “fear period.” The systematic early exposure to a variety of environments BEFORE the fear period limits the development of fear in adulthood. The exposure during the sensitive period is vital for forming lifelong behaviors.
Plus, this entire building is quarantined to avoid any type of infection or disease.
There’s also a “Puppy Pre-School,” which is similar to the Kitten Kindergarten. It provides a safe place for the puppies to interact and explore. They also get exposure to the adult dogs and different breeds.
These Continued Socialization programs were put in place to help the dogs and cats develop to be perfectly trained, well-socialized and further trainable. And it works. This team has no problem adopting cats and dogs out when it’s time. They want to produce “good family citizens.” I mean, it seems that this place and its people are really is more concerned with the well-being and adoptability of the animals then it is the actual food testing!!! The Split-Plate Tests that they do simply offer IAMS on one side, and something else on the other. The other two types of food testing include metabolism testing (ie, urine and feces testing for metabolism), and Bio Assay, which I’m a bit confused about and will ask Beverly - the social media rep for the brands.
Check her out at PetCareBev on Twitter; she always has interesting things to say and is responsible for the many Flat Pets now floating around the blogosphere! This includes my new Flat Maxwell, seen to the left with Flat Tyler and Flat Eli.
But it seems to me that that the actual testing is one teeny tiny part of the lives of these precious pets!! They are ALL so loving and gentle — it’s amazing.
IAMS has really outdone themselves with the PHNC and the programs they’ve instilled there. And the people who care for these pets are just like you and me – they LOVE animals, and they give them the best care possible.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a dog and cat food company that cares for animals and loves them as much as the IAMS/Eukanuba folks…
So stay tuned if you want to learn more about IAMS and Eukanuba. Tomorrow and Monday we’ll discuss the Leipsic Manufacturing Plant – which is one of the places the awesome IAMS and Eukanuba foods are actually made. This place is AMAZING and you have to tune in to hear why….
*I’ll also tell you who else was at the Influencer Summit with me! New friends…yay!!!